French firm VINCI Airports has secured a majority stake in Gatwick Airport after taking advantage of Brexit uncertainty.
The firm, a subsidiary of infrastructure firm VINCI Concessions, said it has signed an agreement to acquire an effective 50.01% stake in Gatwick Airport Limited the UK’s second largest airport.
The transaction is expected to complete in the first half of 2019. The shares were sold by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), which will manage the other 49.99%.
VINCI highlighted Gatwick's strong relationship with Easyjet
According to Reuters, Nicolas Notebaert, CEO of VINCI Concessions and president of VINCI Airports, suggested that uncertainty over Brexit had cut the price of buying into Gatwick.
He was reported to have said in a conference call: ‘Just a few months ago we would not even have dreamed of being able to acquire an unlimited licence in the London airports system for less than 20 times core earnings.’
In the year ended 31 March 2018, Gatwick Airport Group reported total revenue of £764.2m, with EBITDA of £411.2m
In a statement, M Notebaert said: ‘Creating synergies and sharing best practices being at the core of our values, the whole VINCI Airports network will benefit from Gatwick Airport’s world-class management and operational excellence, which has allowed it to deliver strong and steady growth in a very constrained environment.
‘As Gatwick’s new industrial partner, VINCI Airports will support and encourage growth of traffic, operational efficiency and leverage its international expertise in the development of commercial activities to further improve passenger satisfaction and experience.’
VINCI said the deal ‘represents a rare opportunity to acquire an airport of such size and quality and fits extremely well with VINCI Concessions’ long-term investment horizon’, adding that ‘Gatwick Airport is an outstanding asset with further growth potential’ and ‘will become the largest single airport in VINCI Airports’ growing worldwide network’.
Gatwick handles over 46 million passengers a year and serves 228 destinations in 74 countries from the world’s busiest single runway. Although it lost out to Heathrow as the Airport Commission’s chosen location for a new runway for south east England, it has announced plans to expand via its reserve runway.